Alert Solutions Blog

A Round Up of Our Favorite K-12 School Cancellation Announcements

Posted by Tara Gibson on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 @ 09:04 AM

There is nothing like waking up on a cold snowy morning to the news that school is closed for the day. You get to sleep in, play with friends, and not worry about the dreaded pop quizzes and homework assignments that were due. Students look forward to these days every winter!

Cancelling school is always a tricky decision, as school administrators don’t want students to miss out on precious learning time. It can also be a burden for working parents who need to find last-minute child care or have to stay home from work. Some students also rely on school for regular meals. With that being said, student and faculty safety must always come first. You don’t want to risk the lives of the community by not closing the school’s doors for a day or two.

Students and parents may receive a phone call, a text, or maybe something a little different. Superintendents, principals, and teachers are getting more and more creative with their announcements to the school community. As the weather warms up, we want to take a look back at some of the hilarious school cancellation videos from across the country.

Our Favorite School Cancellation Videos

  1. Swartz Creek Community Schools – Michigan

    This hysterical superintendent and high school principal duo, Ben Mainka and Jim Kitchen, announced their school cancellation to the tune of “Hallelujah”. With thousands of views, their entertaining video quickly went viral. We must add… they have great voices! Alert Solutions is looking forward to another school cancellation song from them next winter.

  2. Pontotoc County School District - Mississippi

    This high school principal, Jim Matthews, posted this incredible twist on 50 Cent’s hit “In Da Club” and graced the Pontotoc community with “It’s a Snow Day”. Ending the school cancellation with a peace sign, this amazing video got hundreds of thousands of views.

  3. Durham Academy – North Carolina

    An oldie, but a goodie! This head of school and assistant head of school, Michael Ulku-Steiner and Lee Hark, announced there would be no school for Durham Academy due to “ice ice baby”! A clever school announcement that has over 5 million views on YouTube.

  4. Moses Brown School – Rhode Island

    Alert Solutions is proud to be in the same state as this ingenious head teacher at Moses Brown School. His twist on the popular Frozen song “Let it Go” was switched to “School is Closed”. This school cancellation was put together creatively to announce a snow day a few years ago, but is still on our radar as it is so clever!

Although snow storms and severe weather events can surprise K-12 schools and districts across the United States, your school can always prepare a funny announcement in advance and surprise your community when the time comes.

The Alert Solutions school notification platform, SwiftK12, allows school administrators to easily send out texts, calls, and emails in the case of a snow day. The SwiftK12 email notification has the ability to embed videos, which could be a great way to share a clever snow day song. With a great social media integration, teachers can also share funny school cancellations on Facebook and Twitter.

We challenge you to create your own funny school closure announcement and share it with us! Want to learn more about our school notification system? Download our brochure today.

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication

School Lunch Debt: Can Your Students Afford Lunch?

Posted by Tara Gibson on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 @ 11:04 AM

Did you know 100,000 schools and education institutions across the country provide lunch to 30 million students each day? That’s a lot of cafeteria school lunches! According to the National School Lunch Program, of those 30 million students the program estimates as many as 20 million students receive their lunch for free, 2 million pay a reduced price of 40 cents, and 8 million pay the full price. These incredible statistics are shocking to those who don’t often think about school lunch debt.

Some K-12 school districts are reimbursed this school lunch debt by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which pays schools for lunch expenditures based on the number of students paying full price, reduced price, or are receiving the meal for free. This only occurs if the schools are part of the federal school lunch program.

School Lunch

Students who are not enrolled in a federally subsidized meal plan at their school typically have accounts in which they put money for school breakfasts and lunches. As with any account, once the money is gone the bills will accumulate. This is where school lunch debt begins. The New Food Academy tells us, “…that (school lunch) debt accrual puts an increasing burden on schools that bear it, sometimes to the tune of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single district. In late December, The Washington Post reported that K-12 students in the D.C. area owe a collective $500,000 in unpaid lunch debt for the first semester of the current academic year alone.”

School lunch costs vary by the school district and state, but according to New Food Academy, on average a single meal costs students $2.48 at the elementary school level and $2.74 at the high school level. Although this price doesn’t sound like a lot, it adds up for families providing for multiple children. Lunches can be expensive and lead to school lunch debt.

Frances Frost, a mother in Maryland, spoke openly to the Atlantic and talked about the various permission slips, picture day fliers, and field trip notices she receives on a daily basis. She had unfortunately missed the reminder on refilling her daughter’s school lunch account. She says “…the lunch server graciously let Natalie keep her selected hot lunch with a reminder to bring money for her meal account.” This isn’t always the norm.  There have been discussions on how school lunch shaming is happening in some schools and districts, which is when the cafeteria workers refuse a student lunch as they do not have any money in their account.

This “shaming” sometimes subjects children to the embarrassment of returning their lunch due to insufficient funds.  According to The Atlantic, “Last year in Bedford, Kentucky, parents complained and accused the local elementary school of “bullying” after a child’s lunch was confiscated and thrown away in front of her friends for running a negative balance. Dominic Gant, a high-schooler in Dowagiac, Michigan, was left embarrassed and hungry when his lunch was taken and trashed for owing $4.95. A 12-year-old in Dickinson, Texas had his school breakfast dumped over a 30 cent debt…” The stories continue. Although school lunch debts can seriously add up and create a financial burden for school districts, the shaming and bullying of children who owe money should not occur.

Alert Solutions may have a fix for this problem. Our school notification system, SwiftK12, allows administrators to set up automated alerts to go home to parents, including low lunch balance alerts. The  low lunch balance alert feature can automatically send parents an email, voice call or text message with the student’s name and the remaining dollar amount. Parents can also choose their preferred communication method to make sure they receive and read the notification.

With this feature, school administrators can:

  • Set up different fee alerts based on the balance level
  • Reduce manual staff labor, freeing up time
  • Easily recover unpaid balances, restoring a healthier cash flow for your K-12 school district
  • Notify and engage with parents more effectively
  • Cut down on paper costs

Free up staff from the tedious task of fee reminders and effectively recover unpaid balances with this helpful tool. Ready to learn more?

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: student health, school notifications, school announcement, educational technology, lunch balance, power announcement, powerschool, school programs, parent communication

Questions to Ask your School Notification System Provider

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 @ 12:04 PM

Communicating with your school community is critical to ensuring that everyone is on the same page, feels included and is kept informed of important details that might affect them.

For some K-12 schools, using a school notification system is one way to efficiently communicate with students, teachers, staff and parents. If you’re evaluating your options, make sure to ask these questions to your school notification system provider.

Can they provide a secure and reliable network? 

Ask for details on data center redundancy. What types and how many data centers do they have? How do they ensure reliable message delivery? What level of encryption do they use to keep data secured?

How do they provide rapid message delivery?shutterstock_200713358

How many simultaneous voice calls and text messages can they support per second? How do they leverage routing capabilities to maximize speed? Is their system flexible enough to adjust voice call speed to local phone networks or uses email throttling to adapt to different throughput requirements of various ISPs?

What other K-12 schools have they worked with?

How long have they been working as a school notification system provider? How many K-12 schools and students do they support? Are there any K-12 schools in your area that you can speak with?

What features do they have?

Do they offer a mobile app that allows users to send email, voice, social media and SMS text alerts directly from their smart phone? Can the mobile app connect with your student information system, like PowerSchool, to allow users to instantly access up-to-date contact information? Can you automatically email parents important documents such as report cards, progress reports, transcripts, evaluations and student schedules?

By asking these questions to your school notification system provider, you can make sure you’re doing your due diligence in selecting a solution that works best for you and your K-12 school.

Alert Solutions' School Notification Systems

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education

Making the Most of Back-to-School Communication – 3 Tips for Your K12 School

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Aug 01, 2017 @ 11:08 AM

I know what you’re thinking…it’s still summer time! We can’t possibly be talking about going back to school yet, can we?

Well the truth is many k-12 schools across the country head back to the classroom this month! As educators, we know that effective parent engagement and good school communication is very important to a student’s academic success.


As students arrive for a new school year, k12 school administrators need to have a school communication strategy ready to go.

To alleviate some of the back-to-school stress you may be experiencing, we’ve compiled these 4 tips:

1. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel.
Surveys have shown which school communication channels parents prefer:  voice, parent portal, and email. Give them what they want! Find a school notification system that can offer many different communication methods to accommodate the parents in your school community.

2. Encourage Teacher-Parent Communication.
Let your teachers have some control and foster a positive teacher-parent relationship through communication. Popular teacher-parent communication topics include critical classroom updates, upcoming events, low grade alerts and homework assignment details. Does your school use PowerTeacher? Click here.

3. Create One Message, Share it Everywhere with Social Media.
Social media is an excellent way for a k-12 school or district to share information rapidly with students, families and staff members. Reach the broader school community by posting important messages to your school’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Bonus Tip! Alert Solutions currently supports over 1,000 school districts and 2 million students worldwide with its suite of k-12 school notification systems. To learn more, click here.

Alert Solutions' School Notification Systems

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication

K-12 Schools are Moving to Paperless Report Cards – 3 Reasons Why

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 15:04 PM

Nervous students waiting for the mail to hide their report card from their parents may no longer have that option.

In this digital age, more and more K-12 schools across the country are nixing with tradition and moving to paperless report cards by sending home report cards to parents electronically.

Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Schools are Going Green.
Schools waste enormous amounts of paper. Did you know k-12 schools, on average, use about 250,000 pieces of paper each year? That’s crazy! With each student needing about 4 report cards per year, moving to a paperless report card system is a great way to eliminate excess paper use and reduce the school’s carbon footprint.Automated_Report_Cards-1.jpg

2. It Improves Parent Communication.
With digital access to report cards, progress reports and more, parents stay informed of their child’s progress throughout the school year. Not only is student and parent communication enhanced, but parent-teacher relationships flourish when student information is readily accessible any time.

3. There is a Significant Cost Savings.
With k-12 school budgets getting smaller every year, school administrators are always looking to cut spending. Between paper, printing and postage costs, sending home tens of thousands of report cards isn't cheap. Compounding the issue, not all mailed report cards make it to their destination.

Did You Know? Alert Solutions offers PowerSchool users the ability to send report cards home to parents electronically with its PDF Builder. This school is saving thousands of dollars with it!

Streamlining Report Card Distribution A Best Practice Guide

Topics: environment, school notifications, school announcement, report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education, go green

Why a School Notification System is Vital to Your Parent Communication Strategy

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 @ 15:03 PM

Critical situations like a school lockdown, student health emergency or unexpected school closure can happen at any time. Having a seamless way to communicate with parents, students and staff members during these events can become vital…and sometimes lifesaving.

Enter a school notification system.

School notification systems help streamline communication across multiple channels: voice, email, SMS text, and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget about the Parent Portal!

Parents are eager to stay attuned to the many facets of their child’s life, especially when it comes to their education.

School notification systems provide a convenient and effective way to get the word our quickly and keep parents in the know on everything – from ordinary to urgent.teacherparents-2.jpg

Common uses include:

Plus, school notification systems enable administrators to send the same message to thousands of people at once – a capability that helps prevent rumors from spreading and minimizes confusion during emergency situations.

Providing accurate and timely information through a school notification system should be part of every school’s communication strategy. It’s simply good practice.

Remember! The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set specific guidelines that schools must follow before sending out a message. To learn more, download our Compliance Guide.

TCPA Compliance Guide Download Now.

Topics: attendance, school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent communication, emergency response

Year in Review: Alert Solutions’ Most Read Education Blog Posts of 2016

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 @ 11:12 AM

From being named a Top 100 Product by District Administration Magazine and receiving all three integration badges from PowerSchool to launching our ASI Mobile App, 2016 was a HUGE year for Alert Solutions’ education division.

Our education specialists were also hard at work providing k-12 school administrators with all the hot topics on our blog. Here are the most viewed education blog posts of 2016:

1. Purchasing a New K-12 Notification System in 2016? Read This First
With so many vendors to choose from, it’s an intimidating task to know where to begin your search. This blog post revealed 8 important questions you should ask before you purchase a k-12 school notification system.

2. FCC Update for K-12 Schools – Clarification to TCPA Legislationeducation.jpg
In the summer of 2015, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order (Ruling) related to the TCPA. There was a huge amount of concern about these changes. In response to these concerns, the FCC released a new ruling in the summer of 2016 that granted broad exceptions for many communications to parents. This blog post shared those key points.

3. School Climate Linked to Teacher Retention and Student Achievement
A new report from New York University’s Research Alliance for NYC Schools found that school climate is directly correlated to things like teacher retention rates and student achievement. This blog post shared the responses from over 31,000 teacher surveys.

4. 4 Ways K-12 Schools Can Start Using Social Media
With more than 75% of the US population owning a social media profile, many schools are using Facebook and Twitter to interact with parents, staff, and even students in the classroom! This blog post shared 4 of the top ways school administrators are using social media.

5. School Bullying Incidents Decline Thanks to ESSA Guidelines
According to a Relationship Education (RE) study conducted by Healthy Relationships California , new education legislation called the Every Student Succeeds Act offers a good opportunity for schools to see reduced bullying and violence in relationships. This blog post shared the results of a study that exposed 7,000 students across California to RE.

What was your favorite education blog post from 2016? Let us know!

Check Out More Blog Posts!

Topics: multi-channel messaging, compliance, bullying, cyberbullying, school notifications, school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, social media education, school programs, parent communication

4 Ways K-12 Schools Can Start Using Social Media

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 11:04 AM

With more than 75% of the US population owning a social media profile, many schools are using Facebook and Twitter to interact with parents, staff, and even students in the classroom!

From professional development and parent engagement to providing real-world examples of mathematics, it’s time to make the best of social media. It can really be a valuable resource for education.

Here are some of the top ways school administrators are using social media: 

1. In The Classroomemailsocialmobile.jpg
Social media is being seen more and more as a tool for K-12 classrooms.  From research to field trips, teachers are using social media and technology in order to boost teacher collaboration and proactively strengthen student’s digital skills.

2. General Parent Communication
Social media is an excellent way for a k-12 school or district to share information rapidly with students, families and staff members. If a k-12 school keeps the information updated and accurate, students and families will come to rely on the school’s Facebook and Twitter page as a resource.

>> Social Media Integration Tool <<

3. Professional Development
School administrators are becoming increasingly reliant on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with trends and e-learning tools. When tools and trends go viral, they are more likely to share it with staff members and use them with students. Subscribing to popular education blogs is also a great way school administrators can stay up-to-date with the latest ed-tech news.

4. Promoting School Pride
Is your school hosting a homecoming game on Friday? Did a student win a scholarly award? Let your followers know on Facebook  and Twitter. These updates will create a brand for your school and demonstrate how your school cares about the students and staff. You can even create a Facebook page for your mascot to encourage school spirit!


Did You Know? At Alert Solutions, we use social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to keep your customers informed of everything and anything education!

‘Like’ Us on Facebook and  Follow Us on Twitter today!

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, social media education

Purchasing a New K-12 School Notification System in 2016? Read This First.

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jan 05, 2016 @ 11:01 AM

A fight erupts in the high school gym. A storm knocks out electricity, forcing a middle school to cancel classes unexpectedly. Or in more extreme cases, a suspicious individual is reported lurking around school grounds.emergencypreparedness-resized-600.png

Unfortunately, history shows emergencies in k-12 schools can happen at any time. They require immediate action by school administrators to protect students and staff all while keeping parents updated. Every second counts.

Technology can play an important role in these situations. A k-12 school notification system, when incorporated into a comprehensive emergency preparedness strategy, helps connect school administrators to parents instantly.

With so many vendors to choose from, it’s an intimidating task to know where to begin your search. If you’re looking to purchase a k-12 school notification system in 2016, make sure you ask these 8 important questions:

  1. Does your system require hardware or software?
  2. How long does it take to activate the system?
  3. Can you have multiple contact lists?
  4. Does your notification system integrate with our Student Information System?
  5. Does it support multiple forms of communication?
  6. Can different administrators have different user permissions?
  7. How reliable is your network?
  8. How much does your school notification system cost?

For Alert Solutions’ answers to these questions, click here.

To learn more about our K-12 School Notification Systems, check out our website.

Download Alert Solutions'  Emergency Preparedness Guide

Topics: multi-channel messaging, school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent communication

Back-to-School Parent Communication – 3 Tips for Teachers

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Aug 04, 2015 @ 11:08 AM

Can you believe it? Summer is almost over and another school year is around the corner!

The best way to avoid misunderstandings with parents is to have clear and ongoing parent communication from the very beginning. The more you keep parents informed about classroom news, the more they’ll feel like a part of the team.

According to an annual survey conducted by Speak Up, how and how often a school communicates with student families has a huge impact on their opinion of their child’s school.

The result:

- Most Communicative Schools Were Perceived as Having the Best Instruction
- Top 3 Ways Parents Prefer to Communicate are via Email, Automated Voice and Text Messaging
- Parents Who Felt Disconnected with Administrators Negatively Rated Their Children’s SchoolsPowerTeacher-1

Effective teacher-parent communication not only expands parent involvement, but also creates a stronger teacher-student relationship!

Below are 3 tips teachers can use to ensure they’re effectively communicating with parents this school year:

1. Begin the year by explaining how and when you’ll keep in touch with them.
It’s important to be consistent. Decide when and how you will communicate with parents. Post these times and communication channels and send them home in your welcome letter or back-to-school newsletter. Even better, go green and send your welcome letter or back-to-school newsletter home electronically!
2. Assure parents that you will inform them immediately about any concerns you might have regarding their child.
Share any concerns you have about a child with their parent early on.  Parents become extremely upset when the first sign of trouble comes in the form of a progress report halfway into the marking period or worse yet, on the report card itself.
Tip! By integrating your SIS (student information system) with a parent notification system, you can automate these types of messages. These messages can also include attendance notifications and low lunch balance alerts.
3. When presenting a concern to parents, ALWAYS be ready to explain what strategies you’ve already used to address the issue and what new strategies you’re considering.
Parents don't want concerns brought up to them without a tentative action plan, which you can adjust based on their input.
Are you looking for more tips and tricks? Download our Parent Engagement Strategy Guide today!

Improving Parent Engagement This School is Experiencing  REAL Results!

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication

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